Gravy is meant to be a simple affair. Here are a few of our favorite recipes, featuring make-ahead and last-minute methods alike. (Plus a few vegan options!)

Whichever recipe you choose, if you’re making a meat-based gravy, it will be infinitely better if you start with a high-quality stock. And what better way to guarantee quality than by making it yourself? Doing so is easier than you may think — you’ll roast one pound of turkey wings until brown and crisped, then cook them in water with a few spices for about 40 minutes. (You’ll find more detailed directions in the recipe for Simple Pan Gravy, below.)

Cider Herb Gravy, above. With plenty of apple cider and a little apple brandy, for kick. You can make it all, minus the pan drippings, two days in advance. This recipe makes a substantial amount of gravy (about three cups), so if your gathering is on the smaller size, make half of the recipe.

(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Simple Pan Gravy. A good amount of dry vermouth makes for a lovely, complex sauce. For an even simpler (and gluten-free) gravy, stir a little sour cream into your turkey’s pan juices (as seen in the gravy that goes with the Simple Roast Turkey).

(Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post)

Roast-Turkey Gravy. A little advance work — in the form of roasting several pounds of turkey necks and/or wings — leads to big flavor here. A few spoonfuls of Madeira doesn’t hurt, either.

(Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

Lentil-Miso Gravy. The miso adds nuttiness and a boost of salt to this vegan gravy; pour it over mashed potatoes, roasted parsnips or cauliflower. For something with a little more texture, try Vegan Beans and Gravy, made with dried mushrooms and beans.

More from Voraciously:

How to go classic and get creative with your cranberry sauce

If your favorite part of Thanksgiving is the sides, here’s how to make them count

How to make an entire Thanksgiving feast in your Instant Pot

How to tactfully take over the family Thanksgiving meal without ruining a tradition-filled holiday